Beatrice Clayton Pepper (1882-1969) & Edith Clayton Pepper (1885-1978)

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Title

Beatrice Clayton Pepper (1882-1969) & Edith Clayton Pepper (1885-1978)

Description

Beatrice and Edith Clayton Pepper were sisters who played an active part in the militant suffrage campaign and the activities of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).

They were born in Chorlton-on-Medlock, but lived at 2 Primrose Avenue, Urmston, for most of their lives. Their father, Charles, was headmaster at St Michael’s Church of England School in Hulme from 1866 – 1907, this being the school that Beatrice and Edith attended.

After leaving school, they took occasional part time clerical jobs and helped run the family home, leaving them time to take an active part in the suffrage movement. Edith joined the Suffragette movement in 1906 on a voluntary basis after hearing Christabel Pankhurst speak at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester.

Both she and Beatrice gave much of their time and energy to promoting the cause throughout Lancashire. They acted as stewards at the Free Trade Hall meetings which were held every Friday. They also helped with processions, selling newspapers such as Votes for Women and The Suffragette, and they gave out handbills and chalked slogans on pavements and walls. They also performed Morris dances in Manchester to raise funds for the WSPU.

Between 1908 and 1911, Beatrice and Edith joined several deputations to London with the Manchester representatives of the WSPU and were arrested on charges of obstruction. On 18 November 1910, over 300 women marched to the Houses of Parliament as part of their campaign to secure voting rights for women and tried to enter the House of Commons.

The day became known as Black Friday due to the violence meted out by the police and crowds of hostile bystanders, on the WSPU protesters, over a period of six hours. Many were injured in Parliament Square and although orders were made not to make any arrests, Edith was one of a number of women arrested and bailed.

Beatrice and Edith attended another deputation in London in November 1911 and were amongst 220 women arrested and taken to Cannon Row Police Station. They appeared before the magistrate at Bow Street Police Court the following day.

They served seven days at Holloway prison for which they received the Holloway brooch. This badge, known as the ‘Victoria Cross of the Union’ was presented to women who had served prison sentences for militant suffrage activity.

Following London’s Black Friday, the militant Women’s Social and Political Union, led by Emmeline Pankhurst abandoned peaceful protest and the WSPU became more violent in their actions. In her biographical notes on the Clayton Pepper Family, Valerie Warrior, great niece of Edith and Beatrice, writes:

‘After their imprisonment in December 1911, there is no record of
Beatrice or Edith's participation in the London militancy of the WSPU...It is likely that the Pepper family, and even Beatrice and Edith themselves, had mixed feelings about the actions that had resulted in their imprisonment.’

Beatrice died at the family home in Primrose Avenue on 14 June 1969 at the age of 87. She is buried in the family grave at Southern
Cemetery, Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

In 1970, Edith was one of a number of surviving suffragettes, who
attended the unveiling of the Suffragette Memorial in London. The outdoor sculpture commemorates those who fought for women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom and was commissioned by the Suffragette Fellowship.

Edith was living at Primrose Avenue when she died aged 93 on 19 March 1978. She is buried at Southern Cemetery.

Date

Blue Plaque awarded by Trafford Council 2 July 2023

Rights

This image may be subject to copyright law, in accordance with the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Under the terms of 'fair dealing' it may be used for non-commercial research and private study. The person using the image is responsible for any infringement.

Files

Installed plaque - Primrose Avenue.JPG

Citation

“Beatrice Clayton Pepper (1882-1969) & Edith Clayton Pepper (1885-1978),” Exploring Trafford's Heritage , accessed April 19, 2024, https://exploringtraffordsheritage.omeka.net/items/show/3531.

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